A conditional draft pick sent to the Philadelphia Eagles sent CB Brandon Boykin to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A transaction which is rare after a week into training camp, but the acquisition of another defensive back certainly left many scratching their heads, and the cornerbacks on the current roster were certainly among those who were wondering why help would be needed.
As the majority of fans and media applaud the Steelers' ability to bring in a veteran cornerback with a massive amount of playing time under his belt for a 4th or 5th round pick in next year's draft, current Steelers CB Antwon Blake was left with nothing but questions.
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When Blake was asked why he thought the team made the trade, his answer speaks volumes.
"You'll have to ask Coach Tomlin and let me know," Blake told Neal Coolong of DKonPittsburghSports.com.
You can imagine the questions swirling in Blake's head, as he is the most likely to be impacted by the trade for Boykin. Before the transaction, the top three cornerbacks were William Gay, Cortez Allen and Blake. With Boykin now in the mix, the top three very well could be Gay, Allen and Boykin. That without Boykin even playing a practice snap in a black and gold practice uniform.
This isn't to say Blake couldn't somehow out-play Boykin or Allen and make his way onto the field, but the Steelers aren't about to throw away a 4th or 5th round draft pick to have a player sit the bench. Most likely, Blake has a new home as the team's 4th defensive back and special teams ace. Nonetheless, don't expect Blake to just stand on the sideline like a good soldier and not work his tail off to reclaim a regular position on the team's defense.
"It doesn't really mean anything to me, I'm still going to go out there and work hard every day," Blake said.
Boykin improves the defense, there is no way around such a fact, but what Boykin brings to the team is security. So much hinged on the success, or failure, of Cortez Allen in 2015. If Allen is capable of returning to his 2013 form, the defense could be a solid unit capable of winning football games; however, if Allen reverted back to his 2014 form, the defense could continue to struggle. After all, it was Brice McCain last year who bailed out the ailing Allen and helped be a band-aid for a secondary leaking oil.
With Boykin now on the team, if Allen struggles, they have veteran options on hand. Boykin is capable of playing both outside and in the slot, and with Blake getting plenty of playing time in 2014 he would be more than capable stepping on the field in certain sub packages and with regularity if his number is called.
Blake's attitude is exactly what it should be after the news of Boykin coming to Pittsburgh. There is no guarantee his playing time will suffer to the point where he regrets signing his one-year restricted free agent tender this offseason. The Steelers improved their team in the trade, and unfortunately the move might have left some with questions. Nonetheless, the answer to those questions is quite simple: It is all about improving the team.